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Jordan, Iraq agree on oil supply as trade accords go into effect

By JT - Feb 02,2019 - Last updated at Feb 02,2019

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz meets with Iraqi Premier Adel Abdul Mahdi at the Karameh-Tureibil border crossing between Jordan and Iraq on Saturday (Photo courtesy of Prime Ministry)

AMMAN — Jordan and Iraq on Saturday agreed that the latter would supply the former with 10,000 barrels of Kirkuk oil daily, as the door-to-door freight shipping process began and custom exemptions for Jordanian products went into effect.

The two sides also reached an agreement on the pricing of exported oil, which will take into consideration the transport costs and the variations in quality.

The agreement was reached during a meeting between Prime Minister Omar Razzaz and his Iraqi counterpart Adel Abdul Mahdi at the Karameh-Tureibil border crossing on Saturday after which they issued a joint statement stressing the “brotherly relations” between the two countries, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. 

During a trip to Baghdad last month, Razzaz and his counterpart set yesterday as the deadline for implementing several agreements signed during the visit.

The premier said that a 2017 Iraqi Cabinet decision to exempt 393 Jordanian products from custom fees is now activated, while the government has granted facilities to Iraqi goods imported through the Aqaba Port.

After negotiations to identify commodities that cause no harm to Iraqi local industries and agricultural products, the two sides agreed on a list of exempted products, which are either not produced in Iraq or their production does not cover the need of the Iraqi market, the premiers said. 

According to Petra, dozens of Jordanian trucks crossed into Iraq on Saturday for the first time since the reopening of the Karameh-Tureibil border crossing, as before that trucks used to unload their cargo at the border to be reloaded into Iraqi trucks for the remainder of the trip.

Regarding the Iraqi-Jordanian oil pipeline project, both sides agreed to start the necessary studies to establish the pipeline from Basra through Haditha area until reaching the Aqaba Port, to enable Iraq to diversify its export hubs of oil.

During the meeting, the Kingdom returned 1,376 archaeological pieces to Iraq, including 1,200 pieces that had been stolen from museums and archaeological sites across Iraq.

The Iraqi side praised the cooperation of the relevant Jordanian institutions in maintaining the Iraqi artefacts that were smuggled and seized at the border crossing by Jordanian authorities.

As for commercial exchange and integration, Amman and Baghdad implemented several measures to go forward with establishing a joint Jordanian-Iraqi industrial zone.

The zone will provide an opportunity for Iraqi industries to benefit from exemptions and advantages under free trade agreements the Kingdom has signed with several countries and to penetrate markets with a total population that exceeds 1 billion people. 

The procedures that have been implemented so far to serve this end include a Cabinet decision that sets the coordinates of the zone inside the Kingdom, and the government’s allocation of a 2,000-dunum plot to establish the zone, which could be expanded to 10,000 dunums. 

Work is being undertaken by the Iraqi side to implement similar procedures.

In the agricultural sector, the Ministry of Agriculture pledged to train Iraqi employees on the best use of water resources and water harvesting and the use of environment-friendly pesticides.

The government also agreed to allow Iraqi agricultural produce into the Kingdom during low-production seasons for certain items, while Iraq pledged to adopt a similar policy for Jordanian produce.

In the health sector, the Kingdom pledged to train Iraqi medical personnel and facilitate procedures for Iraqi medical personnel to receive the Jordanian medical board.

Both sides also agreed to remove all obstacles in medical tourism and enhance cooperation between the Jordan Food and Drug Administration and its Iraqi peer.

The two governments would also exchange expertise in cancer treatment and address problems related to the lack of cancer medicines in the Iraqi market.

To facilitate procedures for Iraqi businesspeople to travel into Jordan, the Kingdom will accredit certain Iraqi private sector institutions to receive visa applications in cooperation with the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad.

As for the transport sector, the government decided to exempt Iraqi goods imported through the Aqaba Port from 75 per cent of handling fees to the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority.

Both governments also agreed to sign a codeshare agreement between Royal Jordanian Airline and the Iraqi Airways, to widen the list of destinations available for Iraqi passengers. 

The activation of the door-to-door transport of goods and oil products between Jordan and Iraq comes to facilitate procedures for industrialists, traders and businesspeople, the two sides said.

On the issue of unsettled financial dues, both governments agreed on the general principles to settle accounts and agreed to form a technical committee to present final solutions to these hanging issues. 

As for the energy sector, and in light of Iraq’s need for electricity, the two sides agreed to go forward with the plan agreed last month to link the two countries’ electrical grids. 

They decided to embark on technical studies and securing the necessary funds to start the project within three month, projecting that the Kingdom would export electricity to Iraq in less than two years.

Abdul Mahdi said that the industrial zone will have great benefits for both countries and contribute to boosting development and generating jobs, as well as playing a role in enhancing security and stability.

Jordan Truck Owners Association President Mohammad Dawood said that Saturday’s talks between the two prime ministers will contribute to boosting the operations of thousands of trucks and resuming commercial activities, Petra reported. 

He added that restoring relations between both countries’ investors will boost their economies and lead to the return of effective investments.

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